The continuing romance between peaceniks and violence
Peaceniks were always among the most vocal supporters of the brutal Soviet regime too. And they often demonstrated violently in favour of the Communists in the Vietnam era. Some peaceniks are just mixed up dreamers who believe what they want to believe and others are frauds who find "peace" a useful mask for their own violent impulses
On September 25, five American religious organizations plan to host a Ramadan dinner for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his upcoming visit to the United States. These include the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quakers, the World Council of Churches, and Religions for Peace. How is it that these Christian "peace" organizations are willing to break bread with a declared warmonger and Holocaust denier? An answer lies in the troubling history of these organizations - a history that includes a shameful alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II.
The pacifist-Nazi axis dates to the 1930s. None other than the worldwide spokesman for non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, wrote letters to Adolph Hitler that were deferential in their tone and abhorrent in their implications. A 1939 letter was apologetically described by Gandhi as a "mere impertinence" and included the following signoff: "I anticipate your forgiveness, if I have erred in writing to you. I remain, Your sincere friend, Sd. M. MK Gandhi."
In a letter dated December 24, 1940, Gandhi assured Hitler that he had no doubt of "your bravery or devotion to your fatherland." Zionist appeals for Gandhi to support a national home for the Jewish people, meanwhile, fell on deaf ears, as he insisted that "Palestine belongs to the Arabs." Not only did Gandhi reject the cause of a Jewish state but he effectively echoed Nazi propaganda, as with his warning that "this cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews."
Even more supportive of Hitler were the Mennonites. In a letter dated September 10, 1933, the Conference of East and West Prussian Mennonites from the German city-state of Danzig wrote to the Fuhrer to express its "deep gratitude for the powerful revival that God has given our nation through your energy" and wished Hitler a "joyful cooperation in the up building of our Fatherland through the power of the Gospel." If its enthusiasm for hosting Ahmadinejad is any guide, the Mennonite Church has learned little from this dark chapter in its past. On the contrary, the church's alliance with the Iranian leader is an extension of its hard-line anti-Israel politics, which find expression in its funding of books advocating the so-called "right-of-return" for Palestinian Arabs - a policy that, if implemented, would mean the destruction of Israel.
One finds a similar antagonism for the Jewish State in the activism of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the "peace" arm of the Quakers. As an example of what it calls "Quaker values in action," the AFSC includes its campaigns to "challenge" American support for Israel. A supporter of the PLO, the AFSC not only backs radical anti-Israel groups like Zochrot but opposes Israel's attempts to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism. That the Quakers are now willing to sit down to dinner with the man who has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the global map should not be entirely surprising.
By any reasonable standard, self-styled peace activists might be expected to condemn leaders who support terrorism and who unashamedly seek the destruction of other nations. But just as advocates of non-violence found a way to accommodate the genocidal designs of Adolph Hitler, so they have been willing to make peace with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And just as Gandhi never expressed remorse for his "dear friend" letters to Hitler, its unlikely that these supposed believers in non-violence will break a dinner date with his Iranian heir.
How the Feminists Hate Sarah Palin!
Left-wing feminists have a hard time dealing with strong, successful conservative women in politics such as Margaret Thatcher. Sarah Palin seems to have truly unhinged more than a few, eliciting a stream of vicious, often misogynist invective.
On Salon.com last week, Cintra Wilson branded her a "Christian Stepford Wife" and a "Republican blow-up doll." Wendy Doniger, religion professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, added on the Washington Post blog, "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman."
You'd think that, whether or not they agree with her politics, feminists would at least applaud Mrs. Palin as a living example of one of their core principles: a woman's right to have a career and a family. Yet some feminists unabashedly suggest that her decision to seek the vice presidency makes her a bad and selfish mother. Others argue that she is bad for working mothers because she's just too good at having it all.
In the Boston Globe on Friday, columnist Ellen Goodman frets that Mrs. Palin is a "supermom" whose supporters "think a woman can have it all as long as she can do it all . . . by herself." In fact, Sarah Palin is doing it with the help of her husband Todd, who is currently on leave from his job as an oil worker. But Ms. Goodman's problem is that "she doesn't need anything from anyone outside the family. She isn't lobbying for, say, maternity leave, equal pay, or universal pre-K."
This also galls Katherine Marsh, writing in the latest issue of The New Republic. Mrs. Palin admits to having "an incredible support system -- a husband with flexible jobs rather than a competing career . . . and a host of nearby grandparents, aunts, and uncles." Yet, Ms. Marsh charges, she does not endorse government policies to help less-advantaged working mothers -- for instance, by promoting day-care centers.
Mrs. Palin's marriage actually makes her a terrific role model. One of the best choices a woman can make if she wants a career and a family is to pick a partner who will be able to take on equal or primary responsibility for child-rearing. Our culture still harbors a lingering perception that such men are less than manly -- and who better to smash that stereotype than "First Dude" Todd Palin?
Nevertheless, when Sarah Palin offered a tribute to her husband in her Republican National Convention speech, New York Times columnist Judith Warner read this as a message that she is "subordinate to a great man." Perhaps the message was a brilliant reversal of the old saw that behind every man is a great woman: Here, the great woman is out in front and the great man provides the support. Isn't that real feminism?
Not to Ms. Marsh, who insists that feminism must demand support for women from the government. In this worldview, advocating more federal subsidies for institutional day care is pro-woman; advocating tax breaks or regulatory reform that would help home-based care providers -- preferred by most working parents -- is not. Trying to legislate away the gender gap in earnings (which no self-respecting economist today blames primarily on discrimination) is feminist. Expanding opportunities for part-time and flexible jobs is "the Republican Party line."
I disagree with Sarah Palin on a number of issues, including abortion rights. But when the feminist establishment treats not only pro-life feminism but small-government, individualist feminism as heresy, it writes off multitudes of women.
Of course, being a feminist role model is not part of the vice president's job description, and there are legitimate questions about Mrs. Palin's qualifications. And yet, like millions of American women -- and men -- I find her can-do feminism infinitely more liberated than the what-can-the-government-do-for-me brand espoused by the sisterhood.
Fighting terrorism CAN succeed
When it comes to a state fighting a non-state enemy, the impression widely exists that the state is doomed to fail. In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy concluded that victory in Vietnam was "probably beyond our grasp" and called for a peaceful settlement. In 1983, analyst Shahram Chubin wrote that the Soviets in Afghanistan were embroiled in an "unwinnable war". In 1992, US officials shied away from involvement in Bosnia, fearing entanglement in a centuries-old conflict. In 2002, retired US general Wesley Clark portrayed the American effort in Afghanistan as unwinnable. In 2004, President George W. Bush said of the war on terror, "I don't think you can win it." In 2007, the Winograd commission deemed Israel's war against Hezbollah unwinnable.
More than any other recent war, the allied forces' effort in Iraq was seen as a certain defeat, especially in the 2004-06 period. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former British minister Tony Benn and former US special envoy James Dobbins all called it unwinnable. The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report echoed this view. Military analyst David Hackworth, among others, explicitly compared Iraq with Vietnam: "As with Vietnam, the Iraqi tar pit was oh-so-easy to sink into but appears to be just as tough to exit."
The list of "unwinnable wars" goes on and includes, for example, the counterinsurgencies in Sri Lanka and Nepal. "Underlying all these analyses," notes Yaakov Amidror, a retired Israeli major general, is the assumption "that counterinsurgency campaigns necessarily turn into protracted conflicts that will inevitably lose political support".
Amidror, however, disagrees with this assessment. In a recent study published by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience, he convincingly argues that states can beat non-state actors.
This debate has the greatest significance for, if the pessimists are right, Western powers are doomed to lose every present and future conflict not involving conventional forces (meaning planes, ships and tanks). The future would look bleak, with the prospect of successful insurgencies across the world and even within the West. One can only shudder at the prospect of an Israeli-style intifada in, say, the US. Coincidentally, news came from Australia last week of an Islamist group calling for a "forest jihad" of widespread fires in that country.
Victory over insurgencies is possible, Amidror argues, but it does not come easily. Unlike the emphasis on size of forces and arsenals in traditional wars, he postulates four conditions of a mostly political nature required to defeat insurgencies. Two of them concern the state, where the national leadership must:
* Understand and accept the political and public relations challenge involved in battling insurgents.
* Appreciate the vital role of intelligence, invest in it and require the military to use it effectively.
Another two conditions concern counter-terrorist operations, which must:
* Isolate terrorists from the non-terrorist civilian population.
* Control and isolate the territories where terrorists live and fight.
If these guidelines are successfully followed, the result will not be a signing ceremony and a victory parade but something more subtle: what Amidror calls "sufficient victory" but I would call sufficient control. By this he means a result "that does not produce many years of tranquillity but, rather, achieves only a repressed quiet, requiring the investment of continuous effort to preserve it". As examples, Amidror offers the British achievement in Northern Ireland and the Spanish one vis-a-vis the Basques.
After these conditions have been met, Amidror argues, begins "the difficult, complex, crushing, dull war, without flags and trumpets". That war entails "fitting together bits of intelligence information, drawing conclusions, putting into operation small forces under difficult conditions within a mixed populace of terrorists and innocent civilians in a densely populated urban centre or isolated village, and small tactical victories".
Following these basic precepts does lead to success and during the past century Western states have in fact enjoyed an impressive run of victories over insurgents. Twice US forces defeated insurgents in The Philippines (1899-1902 and 1946-54), as did the British in Palestine (1936-39), Malaya (1952-57) and Oman (1964-75), the Israelis in the West Bank (Operation Defensive Shield, 2002) and, most recently, the US surge in Iraq. Counterinsurgency wars are winnable, but they have their own imperatives, ones very distinct from those of conventional warfare.
Thwarting Jihad in Australia
Civil libertarian concerns are misplaced
CONTRARY to opinion in some quarters, bleeding-heart naivety and soft-headed stupidity are not virtues, especially in terror prevention. The sooner Australia's misguided civil libertarians understand this, the safer their fellow citizens will be. Law enforcement agencies ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police deserve congratulations for the success of Operation Pendennis. After gathering 16,400 hours of electronic surveillance and bugging 98,000 telephone calls, seven defendants, including radical cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika, have been convicted of being part of a terror cell. Despite evidence uncovered of plans to attack the 2005 AFL Grand Final at the MCG or Melbourne's Crown casino during Grand Prix week in 2006, the trial has drawn bizarre reactions from some who are well enough educated to know better.
Rob Stary, who represented seven of the men, claimed the fact that four were acquitted showed "they are casting the net too wide". A more rational interpretation might be that the acquittals showed due process worked and delivered justice. The Australian, especially in its coverage of the botched Mohamed Haneef investigation, has been a stickler for due process to maintain public confidence in the laws. It was upheld in this trial.
Sounding like an ingenuous student, Liberty Victoria president Julian Burnside QC condemned anti-terror laws after the trial for their impact on "minority groups". The vast majority of good Australian Muslims want terrorism stopped as much as, if not more than, their fellow citizens. Mr Burnside also claimed the laws "criminalise conduct most people would not regard as criminal at all, including words said or views held which never result in any actual harm to anyone".
Greg Barns, who defended Ezzit Raad, pointed to "a world of difference between preparing to act and acting, and merely thinking and talking". Such cavalier thinking beggars belief. Every week, criminals go to jail for such crimes such as conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to commit fraud, without actually murdering or defrauding anyone. In such cases, it is the evidence of intention that matters.
Pushed to its logical conclusion, Mr Barns's argument implies that anti-terror laws should not be invoked until terrorist acts are unleashed. This would be as unacceptable to the vast majority of Australians as his client Raad's recorded statement that it was a pity more people had not died in the 2005 London terrorist bombings. Raad was found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organisation and of making funds available to it.
After the World Trade Centre attacks and the Bali bombings, critics of the security services were quick to blame intelligence failures in preventing the attacks. In relation to September 11, the criticisms later proved valid as it emerged that some of the perpetrators had been known to authorities for years. In Australia in 2004, concerns over perceived intelligence failures in the lead-up to the Bali bombings prompted the then ALP Opposition, the Greens and the Democrats to demand judicial inquiries.
Despite such concerns, the exemplary intelligence gathering in the lead-up to the Melbourne terror trial, preventing preparation of a terrorist act that may have killed and maimed innocent people, has left parts of the Left upset. As Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman argues: "Predictably, a number of civil libertarians, academics and legal figures who have vilified those who predicted such a development since the 9/11 bombings and the Islamist attacks against civilians in Bali and the West, have continued their attacks on the legal system which enabled these men to be held, tried and convicted."
Such clouded thinking by the Left is nothing new. In February, Amnesty International's main concern about the trial was that the men had been denied bail. Yesterday, The Age's main concern was a front-page claim they had been "mistreated". During the trial, defence claims of terrifying "Nazi tactics" by authorities and suggestions that members of the alleged cell were too stupid and inept to be terrorists were also unconvincing. Unlike the bosses of Jemaah Islamiah and al-Qa'ida, many of those who perpetrate terror attacks are easily-led dupes.
Despite the controversies, Australia's largest terrorist trial and the investigation that led to it nailed a home-grown terrorist cell plotting to wage violent jihad on Australians. That justice was done, and seen to be done, reaffirmed the value of the anti-terror laws, properly implemented.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.